Interview with Adam Wilson
By Theresa Rizzo
Date: October 7, 2008
Adam Wilson, assistant editor, MIRA Books
Adam has worked with many bestselling authors during his nearly four years with Harlequin, including Heather Graham, Linda Howard, Susan Wiggs, Carla Neggers, and Jason Pinter. His overall work has been diverse and has spanned the house's imprints: MIRA, RDI, Spice, HQN, LUNA, Steeple Hill, and the several Silhouette and Harlequin series. Raised in Colorado, matured in Washington, and settled in New York, he’s attended college in each state and found editorial work to be a great boon to his love of the written word. Currently, he is looking to add thrillers, romantic suspense, commercial literary fiction, relationship novels, non-vampire paranormals, young adult, historicals, erotica, and anything with great writing to his list.
Answer: Honestly, I have seen a glut of vampire books and am having a hard time reading more. There are a lot of great authors already writing them, so it's hard to find something new and fresh in the genre that doesn't feel gimmicky. I'd hate to try and tell people what to write, but personally, I'd like to see more historical paranormals, or paranormals that are really presenting new ideas.
Answer: The official policy of MIRA is to not take unagented materials, so generally I do not. This is also just a logistical matter of time--it's hard to finish the reading list I already have! However, I generally don't mind reading synopses or something short from a non-agented writer. And of course I like things via email--it's portable, eco-friendly, and lets me organize everything better!
Answer: I like to see about two pages, personally. That way I can see how it's developing in a little more detail. Also, I can get a little better sense of a writer's style that way. (So definitely make sure your synopses are polished when submitting to editors.) I also prefer not to be 'marketed to' in the synopsis--generally I'll know what I need or can work with and really just want to see what's going on in the story itself, not in an author's meta commentary on their work.
Answer: It does, sure. Unfortunately, the response time can still be quite lengthy in either event, but it does make me more inclined to read a project. As for 'advice,' I usually give that based on whether or not I think I have something to say that can be said gently and constructively, more so than whether I know the person.
Answer: That's quite a good question, though difficult to answer. I guess when I think back, I've been more impressed by cooperative authors, those who can take feedback particularly. It's not always easy to incorporate feedback, but it's important to try. Half of writing is rewriting and editing, even for the best. So that's step one. Promotability is probably the other thing that will help an editor to convince others within the house to take a chance on a new author, and I do consider it, but I'm more interested in the reader than the marketers, so I have less of a head personally for that most of the time.
Answer: I love the variety of tasks involved. There is more than just reading, and everything goes toward making a project that will a) influence whoever reads it, and b) make an author's career dreams come true (hopefully). I like seeing what authors come up with, how they think of relationships in their books, what their creativity manages to produce. Plus, MIRA (and Harlequin) is a fun place to work. The people are nice and entertaining, in the face of the craziness that is publishing.
Answer: Oh tons. I live in New York, so of course a few things bother me now and then. Regarding my job, however, the biggest is when potential authors feel they can sort of strong-arm or 'market' me into buying their book, especially if they call. I don't mind a follow up email or something, but I'm like most people and don't like being cajoled. Also, incredibly strict grammarians really bother me. I know, it's strange for an editor to say that, but it's true.
Answer: In the mornings, it's coffee, recently. In conversations, it's playing devil's advocate, sometimes. In person, I really like to try to get people to laugh. Some are hard to classify as addictions, but it's what I like.
Answer: I pretty much do what I want to do now. I write some on my own. I get paid to read and give my opinions on things. I help authors make their stories flourish. It's pretty fun, overall. I would like to travel more, and perhaps be made (benevolent) king of the planet, though.
Answer: "Violence is for the unimaginative." --Professor X of the X-Men